Speaking design: How to communicate with your designer

Cecily Kellogg

How many times have we all tried to speak specifically and intelligently but lacked the proper lingo? For example, telling your mechanic that the “thingy” in the engine is broken probably isn’t too helpful. It’s very similar when communicating with designers. The more specific you can be about your requests, the better the chances they can meet or exceed your expectations quickly and without needless and costly revisions.

Here we’ll quickly review some key design terminology that designers use when creating logos, ads, or web pages. Don’t be afraid—it’s just a glossary.

Color Schemes and Color Palettes

When using two or more colors from the color wheel (see below), those colors comprise the scheme. The color palette is the range of colors used in the scheme (e.g., from hot pink to violet, from forest green to seafoam).

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 10.21.51 AM

Image credit: Seven Swans Collection

Color Wheel

A graphic representation of primary, secondary and tertiary colors. Each color is like the area between two spokes in the wheel, following the continuum of the light spectrum. Complementary colors are found on opposing sides of the wheel. Analogous colors are adjacent to a particular color. Rectangular (or Tetradic) colors are four colors comprising two pairs of complementary colors. Split-complementary colors involve the base color plus the two colors that lie next to its complementary color.

CMYK (vs. RGB)

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (yes, I know “black” starts with a B) and represents the colors used in print design of everything from brochures to food packaging. RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is the additive color model used by electronic media such as cameras, video, and TV. General rule: If you’re talking about print, you’re talking CMYK.

CSS Code

A piece of code that is used to designate the look and feel of a website, separate from the actual content of the web page.

Font

A typeface in one specific style and size. For example, Times New Roman Semi Bold, 14 point type.

16

Image credit: Fontfabric

HTML Code

The basic computer language in which text, images, and links are expressed.

Image Files

There are several types of files used to present images. GIF files (pronounced “jiff”) are best used for small files with simple color palettes and simple shapes. GIF files can also be animated. The JPEG is a type of “lossy” file, (i.e., the larger the file size the greater the detail, and vice versa). JPEGs are easy to manipulate and resize for various uses (a buddy icon to a banner ad). PNG files are best used when you have large areas of uniform color or images with transparent backgrounds (unlike JPEGs). TIFF files, unlike JPEGs, do not lose any data when compressed, and are typically used for large files where retaining detail is essential. Not sure which files you need? Have a look at our more detailed post on design file types.

Kerning

The space between individual letters.

IC581877

Image credit: Microsoft; image on top represents kerning

Leading

The space between lines of text.

Live Area

The area of a printed piece or web page that falls inside the margins. This is the area available for design elements such as text, banners, sidebars, and images.

PDF Files

A convenient format for displaying multi-page documents or brochures electronically. PDF files are also searchable.

Pixel

The smallest element of an image on a computer screen. Images are often described in pixel height and width rather than in inches or centimeters.

Saturation

The color intensity. A completely desaturated image, for example, would be composed of black, white, and grays.

Shade

The amount of black mixed with a particular hue.

Type

Each character of type has anatomic features, much like the body. The baseline, for example, is the invisible line upon which the character rests. The midline is the height of a lower case “a.” Some letters, like “p” have descenders—a part of the letter that descends below the baseline. Others, like “d” have ascenders—where part of the letter ascends above the midline. The stem of a letter is the main stroke, or the most vertical stroke. The weight of a character or set of characters refers to the thickness of the stroke’s width. Some examples include demibold, light, and bold.

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 5.15.13 PM

Image credit: http://sabaki.aisites.com/endymion/anatomy.html

Vector Image

Instead of using pixels to represent images, vectors use lines and shapes. Because they do not rely on pixels, enlarged vector images still maintain image clarity and quality.

Visual Hierarchy

A design principle that visually emphasizes certain parts of your content’s message by using colors, sizes, and layouts.

week19-c067d1e511e5098dc348507930805de0

Image credit: Larry Buchanan

Watermark

To prevent content theft, the owner of an image may overlay a copyright or other identifying marker over an image.

White Space

The blank area surrounding an object or element.

 

Itching for more design knowledge? Read more on Hubspot’s Glossary of Web Design Terms.

Now that you’ve got the lingo down, you’re ready to launch your design contest!

The author

Cecily Kellogg
Cecily Kellogg

Cecily Kellogg became an accidental designer when she worked at a short-handed non-profit and although she now prefers designing with words, the lessons she learned from doing graphic design make her work in content development more well-rounded. She writes about the intersection of family, technology, and social media for Babble Tech and runs her own web content business. She is also known for her raw tone and humor on various social media platforms including her own blog, Uppercase Woman. Cecily lives in the Philadelphia area, is happily married, is mom to a fierce and amazing daughter, and has occasionally been called a bad ass.

Related articles

Posters to get your business noticed and your prospects acting

Posters to get your business noticed and your prospects acting

Posters are attention-grabbing, memorable and ultra-flexible. After all, you can hang them just about anywhere! Their low-cost, low-risk nature makes them a great marketing tool for a variety of messages. With months of warm weather ahead, now is a perfect time to consider how a poster design campaign can help generate buzz for your business.…

How to market your business with car wraps

How to market your business with car wraps

Car wraps are a bold way to introduce your company to thousands of people. An effective design is eye-catching and immediately delivers the most important information about your business. Drivers have only a few seconds to take in a car wrap design, so great designs strike a balance of being attention-grabbing but not distracting. Read…

7 examples of web and logo redesign done right

7 examples of web and logo redesign done right

Your company’s logo is its way of showing the world what you’re offering to sell or do. It creates recognition for your products and services, and it can make your products quickly identifiable. While usually this is a good thing, sometimes a logo or web design can miss the mark. However, a redesign is effective…

Current Design Contests

Designers, check out these contests so you can start building your career.
0%